Environmental Geology

, Volume 45, Issue 7, pp 907–919 | Cite as

Landslide activity as a geoindicator in Italy: significance and new perspectives from remote sensing

  • P. Canuti
  • N. Casagli
  • L. Ermini
  • R. Fanti
  • P. Farina
Original Article


Landslide activity responds to rapid environmental changes and represents a relevant geoindicator in mountainous or hilly areas. This paper discusses the socio-economic relevance of landslide hazard in Italy and the problems encountered in establishing relationships between landslide frequency, climate and vegetation changes at different time scales. Landslides blocking a river channel have been carefully taken into account because they are usually characterized by high intensities (with regard to the involved masses and movement velocities) and their occurrences are often datable via radiocarbon dating. This is due to the recovery of organic matter in the landslide dammed lakes. For these reasons they can be considered important geoindicators in the wider category of slope failures. The marked effects of the anthropogenic activity on slope instability processes in the last 50 years are discussed with reference to two case histories: the Chianti hills in Tuscany and the Cinque Terre National Park in Liguria. Finally, two novel techniques of remote sensing are proposed as tools for a systematic monitoring of slope instability at different time and spatial scales. Both techniques are based on the interferometric synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology and differ on the type of platform (satellite and ground-based) used to acquire data.


Geoindicator Landslide Landslide dam SAR 



The authors want to thank Jan Vlcko for the careful revision of the paper. They are also grateful to Dr. Dario Tarchi, who together with all the radar group at the European Joint Research Centre of Ispra, is acknowledged for providing material and suggestions on the remote sensing monitoring of landslides. Authors are also grateful to Peter T. Bobrowsky for the invitation to the IUGS/CoGeoenvironment GRUDEC—International Workshop and Seminar on Geoindicators in Mountainous Areas in Cusco and Urubamba (Perù) 29 September–5 October 2002, where this paper was orally presented. Authors want to thank Stefano Amato, Antonietta del Piccolo and Massimiliano Nocentini for providing data and information regarding the Chianti hills and Cinque Terre sites. This research has been funded from the CNR-GNDCI U.O. 2.14 (Coordinator Prof. Nicola Casagli), CNR—Contract n. 01.01018.PF42


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Canuti
    • 1
  • N. Casagli
    • 1
  • L. Ermini
    • 1
  • R. Fanti
    • 1
  • P. Farina
    • 1
  1. 1.Earth Sciences DepartmentUniversity of FirenzeItaly

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